I returned a few days ago from the Ashtanga Yoga Confluence in San Diego, California. The teachers present were some of the most senior teachers living in Ashtanga today, including Pattabhi Jois' son, Manju! To be taught by these teachers and surrounded by other dedicated teachers and students of Ashtanga yoga was no small thing. I came home feeling centered and rejuvenated, on a yoga high bliss wave that I'm still riding.
I learned a lot in a few days, but more importantly was reminded of a lot of things I once knew (one of which is that I'm a total Ashtanga fan girl and I don't care who knows it). I will be digesting the experience for a while I think, but for now here are a few thoughts and pictures.
~For a style that is so much the same, there is a shocking amount of variance between teachers in approach and what is emphasized. I remember moving to the midwest and feeling sort of confused by what the Ashtangis out here were doing. This is a topic that the teachers at the confluence addressed the first day in the panel discussion on Evolution of Ashtanga in the West. None of them seemed to see any issue in this seeming divergence between teachers and one of them (I think Richard Freeman) said something about how we each experience the practice differently and therefore will teach it differently, even if it is the same practice. I love this permission to make your own choices within what can seem like a rigid practice.
~It really isn't about 'getting' the next posture, and you will not be a better person if you practice second series instead of first. This one is hard to remember for some of us and to hear 5 of the most incredible teachers in the world say it, was very powerful.
~There is more depth in nuance to 'ekam' than I will ever know. It was humbling and inspiring to take Dena Kingsberg's "Seeking Authenticity" workshop where we discovered the new spaces within the body for the breath and meditated on the kind of focus one must bring to practice. She compared this focus to that of holding a newborn baby, strong and purposeful, yet soft and giving. I also really connected with her voice and her presence and I hope I can someday see her again. Sidenote: her husband, Jack, is a babe and he reminds me of my dear husband, Isaac. :)
~Last, but not least, Timji's smile makes me believe in myself. This kind man has no idea the impact he has had on my life and yoga practice (in that order), but more on that some other time. Also, he helped me touch my heels in urdhva Danurasana and even though he laughed and called it 'the old college try', it was a big moment for me. ha!